Oscar: Award as Compensation to Former Losers–Robert Donat, Goodbye Mr. Chips

Artists who have failed to win the award are not forgotten and are not lost cases.   The Academy tends to compensate the losers (or non-winners), usually in the near future, with belated Oscar Awards.

The consolatory awards serve as sort of a corrective mechanisms to the imperfections of the Oscar as a functional reward system.erformance of the year.

Robert Donat

Robert Donat’s first Best Actor nomination was for MGM’s literary adaptation, The Citadel, playing the lead role of the struggling doctor.  But he lost out to Spencer Tracy, who won for Boys Town.

In the following year, this was “corrected” and Donat received the Best Actor award for a nobler, but no better, performance in Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

However, But by correcting this error, the Academy created a new omission and a new “victim,” Jimmy Stewart, who gave the best performance of 1939 in Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, for which he was cited by the New York Film Critics Circle.

Once again this was corrected, in 1940, when Stewart himself got the Best Actor award for Cukor’s savvy comedy, The Philadelphia Story.

The fact that Stewart was already enlisted in the military, thus becoming Hollywood’s first major star to join the war effort, was probably an additional relevant factor for his win; in fact, Stewart accepted the Oscar in uniform.